Florida Gov. DeSantis removes COVID-19 restaurant rules, masks penalties and more

"Every business has a right to operate... you can’t just say no after six months and have people twisting in the wind,” said DeSantis.

Florida Gov. DeSantis removes COVID-19 restaurant rules, masks penalties and more
PHOTO BY MICHAEL M. SINCLAIR

Despite Florida logging nearly 2,500 new COVID-19 cases and almost 200 new deaths yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis now says he will allow restaurants and other businesses to operate without restrictions.

While speaking to reporters in St. Petersburg, DeSantis said he will sign an order today moving the state into a phase 3 reopening, which would allow bars, restaurants and gyms to operate at full capacity, and will also limit local governments from enforcing stricter rules. 

According to the order, bars, pubs, nightclubs and breweries that derive 50 percent of sales from alcohol can operate at full capacity with limited social distancing protocols.

"Every business has a right to operate... you can’t just say no after six months and have people twisting in the wind,” said DeSantis. 

The order, which DeSantis says is in effect immediately, will also stop local governments from closing a business due to COVID-19 violations. It also says any fines and fees accrued during the pandemic from cities will not be allowed to be collected. Also, cities and counties cannot force restaurants to operate at below 50% capacity. 

"Businesses should maintain adequate sanitation practices among employees and patrons during all hours of operation," says the plan. "Menus, if laminated, should continue to be cleaned after each usage. Paper menus shall be designed for single use and then disposed of immediately after use." 

The order also lifts any penalties or fines for refusing to wear masks.

In his announcement, DeSantis mentioned that hospitalizations were down, and coronavirus survival rates were at 94 percent in Florida. However, he did not mentioned that the Florida had more deaths than any other state yesterday. 

This is a developing story.

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About The Author

Colin Wolf

Colin Wolf has been working with weekly newspapers since 2007 and has been the Digital Editor for Creative Loafing Tampa since 2019. He is also the Director of Digital Content Strategy for CL's parent company, Euclid Media Group.
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